by John D. Coiner LC '67, David Aurelius LC '72, Brian Martens LC '72, Lennis Moore LC '72, Peder Hegland LC '72, Paul Wilkie LC '72, Mary Denen LC '72, Martha Winter LC '72, Jon Shumway LC '87, Elizabeth Maurland LC '87, Valerie Almquist LC '92, Hallie Evans LC '97, Nate Evans LC '96, Ben Moore LC '02, and Astri Snodgrass LC '12
September 6 - October 13, 2017
We are exceptionally grateful to have work by these accomplished artists in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection. The Collection, currently curated by Lea Lovelace, contains more than 1,800 pieces, 203 of which were created by alumni artists. Luther's art historian, Dr. Kate Elliott, will resume the collection duties when she returns from sabbatical leave. The current exhibit was curated by Alexis Hove LC '18, with assistance from Paige Putnam LC '18. A video by 1987 alumnus Jon Shumway is also available. "Upgrade: Cyborg Ascending a Staircase" explores the concept of progress being represented through the technological manipulation of the human. The piece can be viewed using a QR code scanner or through this link.
"Upgrade: Cyborg Ascending a Staircase explores the general concept of progress as it is represented through the technological manipulation of the physical human form. Technologies, according to Marshall McLuhan, function as extensions of humanity into the environment. Thus, technology serves to blur the physical boundary that separates our personal being from its environment. In Upgrade: Cyborg Ascending a Staircase these extensions are turned inward as we, in essence, become physically united with our own technological creations.
As a species, we are engaged in a continuing and increasingly grand scale physical alteration of our own form. Whether or not this form of 'progress' is viewed positively is a matter of opinion and perspective. The fact is that the body is being technologically altered, and has been to some extent for most of human history. Also, in a society where technological advancement and superiority are highly valued, such developments are generally categorized as being progressive.
The concepts of progress and advancement tend to be understood as a forward or upward movement. Likewise, the term 'upgrade' tends to be used in relation to the concepts of progress and advancement. We upgrade a piece of equipment by altering or adding to it in an effort to make that piece of equipment better than it was previously. This term also has a similar directional implication, as the incorporation of the word 'up' implies.
The utilization of a sequence of Eadward Muybridge photographs to create the stair climbing motion of the figure makes reference to an historically significant infusion of mechanical technology into the production of artistic images. Similarly, the title Upgrade: Cyborg Ascending a Staircase along with the movement of the figure in the work makes reference to Marcel Duchamp and his painting Nude Descending a Staircase. Duchamp, as the originator of the 'readymade,' drew into question the very conception of 'Art' and what constitutes it. This questioning resulted in Art's opening up to new conceptual and media-based possibilities. These 'upgrades' opened the door for the inclusion of non-traditional technologies into the art making process and forever changed the way art is perceived and understood."